Grab enters travel booking with hotels now and flights then
Faced with an innovative and rapidly growing rival, Grab’s foray into travel, starting with hotels, could give him an edge over rival Go-Jek, who does not travel – for now.
Singapore-based ridesharing company Grab is officially entering the travel industry with hotel bookings fueled by – unsurprisingly to some in Asian travel circles – Agoda and Booking. Grab is expected to launch flight bookings within the year.
The move has been awaited since Booking Holdings, owner of the two online travel agencies, invested $ 200 million in Grab last year.
By next month, Grab users in Singapore will be able to book accommodation on Agoda.com on the Grab app, then on Booking.com in June. There will be exclusive hotel offers, transportation discounts and free insurance coverage, among other things, to generate bookings. But neither Grab nor Agoda disclosed their sales expectations during a press briefing on Tuesday.
The flights are expected to launch within the year, said Jerald Singh, Grab’s product and design manager, when asked by Skift about the matter.
“It’s coming,” Singh said. “We started with accommodation because there are a lot of synergies between hotel reservations and Grab.
“When you can book your hotel with Grab, not only can you book that hotel, but we are now able to seamlessly book your trip to the airport, to the hotel, because we know where you are. you are heading, and once you are at the hotel, we are able to give you options nearby, recommend nearby restaurants, have food delivered to your hotel, and get you around with ease and seamlessly to where you want to go in the city. .
“On the flight side, that’s something we’re also absolutely looking at. It’s on the roadmap and will hopefully be launched in the coming months as a supplement to hotel bookings.
Beware of adding tours and activities to Grab. Singh said, “While I can’t tell you when it arrives, you can imagine that the tours and activities are something else that has great synergy with Grab.”
Grab already offers booking suggestions for things to do around the user’s location and places they can visit. “It’s a lightweight product experience that allows us to get a signal on demand for tours and activities. And we are seeing strong demand. Things to do and places are actually some of our most engaging content that we show on the Grab super app – then you can expect us to continue to consider who we should partner with to bring some of that inventory to the table. [into Grab]”Singh said.
Go into competition
Grab is under pressure to outsmart its big rival Go-Jek, even though it considers itself the “biggest super app” or “the only super app in all of Southeast Asia’s biggest markets.”
Grab operates in eight ASEAN countries – Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar – compared to four for Go-Jek, namely Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore and Thailand. But Go-Jek is expanding, soon to the Philippines and Malaysia, and is seen by some as having more creative chops in the range of services offered.
Beyond commuting, food ordering, hyper-local delivery and digital payment, Go-Jek offers a plethora of lifestyle services such as Go-Massage, an in-home spa and the reservation of massage services; Go-Clean, maid service reservation; Go-Auto, reservation of vehicle maintenance service; and Go-Glam, reservation service for beauticians.
“The best company I’ve seen in Southeast Asia is Go-Jek,” said Tony Fernandes, CEO of AirAsia, in a previous interview with Skift about his vision to make the airline a technology player. “I learned a lot from them. They are super smart, innovative, humble and everyone has copied them. They learned from the Chinese [We Chat] well, so everyone learns from each other. Go-Jek gave me a lot of conviction, was my inspiration; they do things that help people, that’s what AirAsia is.
Grab’s foray into travel may give him an edge over Go-Jek, but that remains to be seen as more and more travel players in Asia begin to move closer to the super-app phenomenon, as seen in Traveloka offering lifestyle reservations and AirAsia.com, which will also soon include tickets from other airlines on its site.
Besides hotels, Grab also introduced three other services, tickets, trip planning and video, starting with users in Singapore. But these have nothing to do with travel.
It turns out that the tickets refer to movie ticket bookings in partnership with BookMyShow. Its trip planning service gives users the timetables for public transport in Singapore so they can plan their trip and book their first / last mile transfers with Grab, and the video offers on-demand streaming of movies and content. free from HOOQ.
When asked what makes Grab the best superapp compared to competitors in the region, Singh said, “Ours is fueled by partnerships. Grab is truly the only open platform in this part of the world that companies like BookMyShow, Agoda, Hooq can operate, integrate their platform with ours, and bring their services to our customers here in South East Asia. For us, this is the main differentiator.
A source close to Grab in Indonesia gives an example of why the approach makes a difference: Grab partners with Happy fresh, which it says is the leading grocery delivery provider in Southeast Asia, for its on-demand grocery delivery service GrabFresh. This integrates HappyFresh’s own platform into the main Grab app.
“When a customer books, say, bananas or delicate fresh fruit, HappyFresh has the appropriate staff to select the fruit. Go-Jek has not worked with a partner; instead, the drivers chose them. They closed their grocery delivery service [in September last year]”the source said.